Top Spin 3 Updated Hands-On

We check out the Career mode in an updated build of 2K Sports' tennis game.

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With Top Spin 3--the upcoming tennis game from 2K Sports and developer PAM--the aim seems to be squarely focused on creating a more realistic game of tennis than in previous versions. That isn't to say that the previous Top Spin games have been arcade experiences, but by focusing on some new controls tweaks and an increased importance on realistic player movement, the third game can sometimes be a dramatic change from the older games in the series. We've been spending the past few days with an updated build of the game to see how it has progressed since we saw it last in February, during which we were able to check out the game's updated Career mode.

The player creator will let you create whoever… or whatever… you can think of. We're not sure what this guy says about our state of mind.

Creating a custom character will be your first task in your Top Spin 3 career, and you'll have more control than ever over how your alter ego appears in the game. You'll start with a preset build of a male or female character, one you can alter to your heart's content. You can select everything from body type to eye color, either using preset builds that will quickly get you up and running or shaping things as you see fit. The face-shaper feature is the most interesting bit; here, you can alter more than 20 individual points of articulation on your player's face. It's powerful enough that, with some time and patience, you could probably create some realistic facsimiles of real players. It's also easy enough to use that, with just a few flicks of the thumbsticks, you can create a horribly inbred-looking creep that has no business being on a tennis court.

Once you've got your character worked out, it's time to hit the courts. You'll start in the amateurs where you'll face three opponents on a local court. Though you shouldn't have much trouble wiping the floor with these scrubs, you'll immediately see a difference between this Top Spin and the previous games in the series. You'll still have a variety of shots available to you at the press of a button: standard, slice, lob, and the top spin shot. It's apparent early on that relying on the standard shot is not going to get your very far in the game, even when going up against the scrub opponents.

Part of the problem is that your player is a scrub too. With bottomed-out attributes, he or she is slow, weak, and doesn't have much control over his or her shot; but luckily, neither do your opponents. It's relatively easy to take them down, provided you mix up your shot selection and placement. You'll want to get your footwork down in these early matchups because player placement means more in Top Spin 3 than in any tennis game in recent memory. First of all, it takes longer for a player to change direction and get from one side of the court to the other, especially in the early goings when his or her speed ratings are down. Secondly, the quality of your shot has a lot to do with where your feet are when you swing--how close or far away you are from the ball and how early you begin your backswing.

Once you've dispatched of the local competition, it's time to move up to the Challenger level. This is a tournament where you first have to beat the players in your group before moving on to the tournament itself. Players are tougher here, so it's good news that you can improve your player's performance with experience points you earn from victories in the game. You spend experience for points you can spread across eight attributes--forehand, backhand, service, return, volley, power, speed, and stamina. As you increase attributes in a category, the cost for additional points in that category will also rise. Your player starts with 300 attribute points total, and as you go, you'll be able to max him or her out with a total of 560 points. In addition to earning experience points, you'll earn unlock points that you can spend on new clothing items, accessories, and equipment.

Competition in Top Spin 3 starts off challenging and only gets tougher.

You'll need all of those points once you reach the third level of competition in your career: the juniors. Here, you'll have a calendar system with two tournaments available to you per month--an easy tourney and a hard one. Naturally, the harder tournaments feature competition that is a notch above that in the Challenge level, so you'll want to spend a little time with the easy matches to begin with while building your character in preparation of the tougher matches. Alternately, you can spend some time in the game's extensive tutorial mode--where you can practice everything from basic baseline strategies to more advanced shot types, such as the drop shot or serves executed with the right stick. With the game's focus on realism, you have a good deal of control over where and what type of shot you choose. For example, when using the right stick to serve, you pull back (to toss the ball) and then can either move the stick straight forward for a flat serve, clockwise for a slice, or counterclockwise for a lift serve.

Beyond honing the game's control scheme, the developers at PAM have also been hard at work on the game's graphics, and it shows. You've come to expect realistic player models in sports games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and Top Spin 3 won't disappoint here. You've got great-looking models of such top-name tennis stars as Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, as well as a few classic players, such as Bjorn Borg and Boris Becker. The courts you play on also look good and feature a mixture of real-life locales, as well as slightly more outlandish fictional courts that add some variety to the visuals.

The realistic tennis action in Top Spin 3 takes some getting used to, but there's undoubtedly a lot of depth to the action. It will be interesting to see how the game's online competition--which will include new tournaments every two weeks to determine an online champion--shapes up now that players will have an increased level of control. Top Spin 3 is prepared for service on June 23, so look out for our review of the game at that time.

Discussion

39 comments
nhlhero89
nhlhero89

i think ill rent it first to see if it really is that realistic because im sick of tennis games that get boring fast and then ultimately feels like a game of 3D pong

Leunam_S
Leunam_S

If there is no Nadal, then for me... it's no Top Spin (360 owner)

garrybubba
garrybubba

Nadel a PS3 exclusive did bill gates pour sugar in nadels gas tank or something, I was really looking forward to playing as nadel. I'm sorry but this game has just been downgraded from a must own to a we'll see for me!!

trebor2005
trebor2005

Top Spin 3 is supposed to be a SIM now. How can that be if the player roster is sooooo weak? No Rafael Nadal and No Novak Djokovic? They are ranked 2 and 3 respectively (I think). It doesn't even have Marat Safin which is a fun player to watch even though he may not be top ranked at the moment. Come on 2K, fix the roster!!!!! PS3 Version will have Nadal but not on 360 !!!! What's that about? Will it be cheaper then PS3 version then? Also, if you have classic players wouldn't it make sense to have rivals? Like Agassi, Sampras, Conors, MacEnroe, etc, etc, etc. I like the Top Spin games to a point but if you are going to start calling this a SIM wouldn't it make sense to have ALL of the top players?

stripey1
stripey1

this game will be sick, im for nadal

rsox07
rsox07

This game looks good. Real good!!!!!!!!!

Premier1101
Premier1101

I hope it takes the awesomeness of 1 and incorporate it into 3.... I was the first person to track this game, but i fell off course... now I'm back on...:D

sejfti
sejfti

Its very embarrassing and pathetic from 2K Sports not to include Novak Djokovic, as 3rd on ATP list...!!!!! It may be the best tennis simulation, but they really disappointed me with their political involvement with the game that should be fun and more than that - away from all that!

Lt8653
Lt8653

lol at the guy you made gamespot haha xD

ukogmickey
ukogmickey

LoL, Yeah Virtua Tennis is good but no where near as Realistic and Great as far as Tennis Sim games are, I mean Virtua to me means ARCADE, Like Virtua Fighter is an Arcade type game. It is exactly that too as you hardly ever miss a shot, You can have like Very stupid unrealistic rallies for like 30 minutes or something, yeah it is good that its just fun to play, But if you wany Realism then it dont come close to Top Spin 2, and then you saying Virtua will be better than Top Spin 3, you clearly dont know your Tennis from your Snooker my friend. I have very High Hopes for this Game !!!!

Olaoye_tw
Olaoye_tw

i'm buying this game whether it sucks or not!!

beer_tree
beer_tree

This looks like it will be a great game, very graphically intense and at least they will actually challenge their users instead of blow outs which are never fun.

pastro243
pastro243

fernando gonzález is not in this, so I guess ill pass..... it looks good though

sardron
sardron

Sounds like they dumbed down the career mode a bit from TS2 - there you could advance both by training and playing matches. Training mini-games provided some variety as after a while too many matches got competitive. Also I keep reading references to swing time and foot work/placement being important, but those were important in TS 2 too - has it changed much? Would be interesting if it has, but nothing I've read sounds that new.

alechair
alechair

Don't even waste your time or money on this game... Smash Court Tennis 3 will be a LOT better. Namco did a great job on previous versions, and I'm pretty sure it will do it again.

Lord_Alan
Lord_Alan

Top Spin for the Xbox was awesome, but I've graduated to Sega Superstars Tennis ;) Besides, for 360 I'd pick Virtua Tennis over Top Spin any day!

ronniepage588
ronniepage588

i have top spon for xbox, and that game was awesome. so ill probably check this out sometime.

Zerosumgame
Zerosumgame

Why they keep pumping out these ugly sports games? man I miss Virtua tennis, the original! the lastest one is made by studio outside of Japan, they bombed.

nrCooldude
nrCooldude

i'll be tracking this one.. looks to be shaping out well. i didn't like ts1 much, so i didn't bother with ts2, but this looks promising

larlarbd
larlarbd

I loved Top Spin 1 on the Xbox , I loved it so much that I have it on PC as well . I got the X360 version of Top Spin 2 & love it , play it regular , but my ONLY complain is I loved Pete Sampras in the 1st one ( I'm a huge fan ) , if it's not too much to ask can they just put Sampras in with the legends roster in top spin 3 ? That would make the game perfect - great mix of old & new.

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

Fantastic news, I'm glad 2K is bringing the realism and control to next level. This could actually be my must by since the only other tennis game I truly enjoyed was on Dreamcast.. :)

fearrich
fearrich

By my logic this one should be very good - TS1 = Great TS2 = Not so Great TS3 = Great

aDhAmMe13
aDhAmMe13

simply, I CAN'T WAIT 4 THIS!!!!

munchin
munchin

Hiigar is so right. I wasn't even sure if anyone else had ever even played Smash Court 2. That game was great. One of the only tennis games I've played where they actually appear to have consulted tennis players. You don't have to stand there and hold the button to hit hard shots. It makes point construction so much less frustrating. Just a bit more realistic all-around, thought I love all the Top-spins and VT's

Pride_of_Hiigar
Pride_of_Hiigar

The best tennis game In my mind is Smash court tennis pro2, nothing beats it in gameplay, smash court tennis 3, was a little disappointing. I want 2 see how Topspin 3 comes out, as the 1st 2 were arcade-ish and didn't have the fun which smash court gave...

starfoxmcleoud
starfoxmcleoud

Top Spin 1 was by far the best tennis game of it's time. And the XSN (Xbox Sports Network) made it even more fun by having the online tournaments and leagues. As for this one, i'm curious to see how it shapes up. Hope it's not too realistic to where it ruins the fun!

crazymaghie123
crazymaghie123

I'm sooo excited been waiting 2 years I was in the top 500 for the online mode

revelations
revelations

Virtua Tennis 3 was pretty fun too....seems like it gets a little overlooked but it was fun. So many Tennis games, yet they all turn out pretty good. I guess that's competition for you.

bawathegamer
bawathegamer

i love top spin 1 so much.i remember after our finals were over my friend got together a couple of guys to play top spin in doubles mode on his xbox.it was so addictive.we had matches that even went up to 1.5 hours.good times.good times.i really loved top spin.never played anyother tennis games so cant really comment on that. this is great news. hopefully no bugs or crashes or anything of that sort. one of the few sports based videogames i like to play.

fanirama
fanirama

Wow. Starting to sound a lot like Smash Court Tennis which is a superb game. I'm excited for TS3 and SCT3 too. SCT3 on the PSP is decent. SCT2 was pretty good.

sweetjunks
sweetjunks

This sounds like it is shaping up good. This and Smash Court are the best tennis sims out there.

galerian86
galerian86

The Top Spin series is the best tennis game out there. Virtua Tennis is not good enough to compete with Top Spin IMO.

heriberto666
heriberto666

these game will be so coool finally real life stuff like rackets and shirts in a tennis video game